Jan 8, 2024

Identities are like the shirts we wear

Identities are like the shirts we wear.

  • Some shirts are very precious to us as they might have been gifted to us by someone special
  • Some shirts are a must in our wardrobe. Though we may not like them, we choose to wear them to get accepted by society or if society demands it (formal full sleeves for example)
  • We hold onto some shirts, thinking "What if we need them in the future?". Though it might have gone out of fashion or we might have outgrown it (due to size, taste, age, etc), we don't dare to get rid of them.
  • Some shirts are so comfortable that even after they are worn out, faded, or torn a little bit, we continue to wear them
  • Some shirts are the statement we choose to send out to the world. Through looks, color, and fit, we convey a lot about ourselves to the world we interact with.
  • Some shirts are not our current size. We might choose to wear a tight "M" size, though our size might have moved onto "L". It could be due to a lack of acceptance of our new size OR due to aspiration to get back to our previous size.

(1) Think of all those identities that you strongly cling to. Make a list.

For eg, a sample of my list could look like "woman, mother, wife, Indian, yoga instructor, avid book reader, vegetarian, etc"

(2) From this list, which shirt description matches closely to those identities?

Why do we choose to link ourselves to those identities?

Is due to attachment, want of acceptance, security, habitual pattern, comfort, self-projection, aspiration, or lack of self-acceptance?

(3) Once you have this awareness, think of all the ways by which these identities are limiting you or blocking you from the path of happiness and peace.

If we closely attach ourselves to an identity and if it is taken away for some reason, we feel lost and disoriented.

For eg,

If one gives too much importance to his job role/title, if that gets taken away due to layoff/retirement, he feels debilitated and lost.

If one is extremely proud of the fact that he doesn't have grey hair even in his 60s and then baldness starts to show up all of a sudden due to aging, he feels that a core part of his identity is lost and he feels dejected.

Identities or Labels have an objective - to communicate the subjective meaning of ourselves to the world.

If we cling to them, they end up creating internal conflict and turmoil in multiple ways, leading to disruption in our mental well-being, relationships, and self-growth.

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